Financial Protection

PIRG files comments asking FTC to write a data minimization rule

We're asking the FTC to write a data minimization rule - restricting companies to only gathering the data needed to provide a consumer the service they're expecting to get, and using it for just that purpose.

An illustration of a laptop screen with a warning alert
Darwin Laganzon |
Protecting your information online has never been more important.

Companies collect vast amounts of data on us – like our browsing history, web searches and past purchases, as well as demographic information. Many of these companies, like data brokers, sell this data to advertisers so they can use it to target us with ads, tailored to us personally based on what companies think are most likely to get us to buy. 

The FTC is considering writing rules to rein in this “commercial surveillance”. Yesterday, PIRG filed our comments asking the FTC to take action and write a data minimization rule. We also submitted petition signatures from over 9,300 consumers who think companies shouldn’t be able to gather whatever information about us they want, and use it however they like.

Our comments catalog the recent changes in the targeted advertising industry – like the shift to retail stores selling their customers’ “first party” data – and how today’s advertising is the culmination of 100 years of media-driven advertising looking to become more personally targeted to convince consumers to spend money. 

We also look ahead to alarming possibilities in the future – including marketers having access to real time data about consumers thanks to smart Internet of Things devices in our homes and virtual reality goggles sold by companies like Meta. 

You can read our full comments here.

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